Massey miners confident of safety priorities: survey

MASSEY Energy said this week that an independent study performed with its underground workers has shown that 97% feel that safety is important to their employer.
Massey miners confident of safety priorities: survey Massey miners confident of safety priorities: survey Massey miners confident of safety priorities: survey Massey miners confident of safety priorities: survey Massey miners confident of safety priorities: survey

Underground at the Revolution longwall mine.

Donna Schmidt

The survey was conducted by Opinion Access Corporation, and included a three-day poll of miners at 46 of Massey’s operations. In total, 2,092 individuals filled out forms as they were beginning or ending their work shifts.

Massey officials said that no identifying information was requested on the forms distributed by Opinion Access, which had never worked with the company before.

Another interesting survey find, according to the company: 90% of those questioned answered “yes” when asked if they were satisfied that the organization responded to and resolved complaints by miners regarding safety.

“The results directly contradict accusations that Massey Energy is indifferent to safety and that its members are afraid to report safety problems for fear of being punished,” the company noted, adding that 91% of its crews also believed Massey’s S-1 (Safety First) program makes its mines a safe place to work, and safer than required by law.

Other outcomes from the independent survey:

  • 76% said “no” when asked “Are you afraid of being disciplined or fired if you raise safety concerns?”
  • 79% agreed that “this organization considers work safety to be of greater importance than production”
  • 89% of miners surveyed answered “yes” to the statement “I feel free to go to a ‘higher boss’ than my immediate supervisor to discuss any problems”
  • 92% were aware that the company has an anonymous hotline to report safety concerns;
  • 94% agreed that Massey “is committed to safety in the workplace” while 96% agreed that their “immediate supervisor” and “superintendent” are committed to safety; and
  • 96% agreed that the “company stresses proper safety procedures”

Massey spokesperson Jeff Gillenwater said the company found the results to be “heartening” given claims that it puts production and profits ahead of worker safety.

“Massey miners had a full opportunity in this survey to express any concerns they have about safety and we believe they would have been particularly willing to speak up since they did not have to identify themselves,” he said.

“Importantly, a large majority reported that they believe the company puts safety first and that when they see a safety problem, they can report it without fear of reprisal … and that’s just the way we want it.”

He also noted that Massey has planned to provide additional training and education to its employees to ensure everyone feels comfortable enough to report any safety concerns.

“We will not be happy until 100% of our miners feel free to report problems.”

The Upper Big Branch mine – closed since an explosion on April 5 – was not one of the operations included in the 46 polled by OAC. However, Gillenwater noted a “vast majority” of the workers from UBB have been transferred to other Massey mines which were included in the survey.